A game-maker is only as good as his tools; or, more accurately, the tools playing his game.
Many would-be dungeon masters are anxiously awaiting the release of Dragon Age: Origins's toolset, which is an updated version of the robust tools that came with Neverwinter Nights. Before anyone gets too excited, it would perhaps be wise to remind ourselves of the experience Max Steele had several years ago, when he tried to craft a true tabletop experience for his friends using Neverwinter's tools. The group started off with the best intentions, but it didn't take long for things to go awry:
"You weren't supposed to kill the deer! Now I have to raise you from the dead and the module is ruined!" I typed as loudly as I could.
"If you didn't want us to kill the deer, why'd you put them there?" asked Scott.
"BECAUSE REAL FORESTS HAVE DEER! IT'S MORE IMMERSIVE THIS WAY!"
At that moment, I felt that the problem with computer roleplaying games wasn't the games. It was the players. They just didn't get it. Here I was with friends who were perfectly good tools for executing my storylines in the living room, but put them behind a keyboard and they simply couldn't be bothered to try and do what they were supposed to.
Steele's painful tale is a helpful reminder that every game is perfect until you let people play it. It's also a hilarious story of a homemade RPG gone wrong. Read Don't Roleplay the Bugs from Issue 4 of The Escapist, then share your own misadventures.
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